The Myth of Learning Styles


The term ‘‘learning styles’’ refers to the concept that individuals differ in regard to what mode of instruction or study is most effective for them. Proponents of learning-style assessment contend that optimal instruction requires diagnosing individuals’ learning style and tailoring instruction accordingly. Assessments of learning style typically ask people to evaluate what sort of information presentation they prefer (e.g., words versus pictures versus speech) and/or what kind of mental activity they find most engaging or congenial (e.g., analysis versus listening), although assessment instruments are extremely diverse. The most common—but not the only—hypothesis about the instructional relevance of learning styles is the meshing hypothesis, according to which instruction is best provided in a format that matches the preferences of the learner (e.g., for a ‘‘visual learner,’’ emphasizing visual presentation of information).

Ah. Here’s the kicker:

We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base, of which there are an increasing number.

You can read it for yourself in this study:

I know that “learning styles” are really popular but it is dangerous to lean too heavily into them; in fact, removing this entirely from our language and culture would be exceedingly-useful for everyone.

Why? Because we’d be much more open to authentic learning: Instead of just faking it by reading stuff that we are already predisposed to “like” and “learn”; real learning is oftentimes the result of discomfort which is antithetical to encountering the same experience in a “preferred” manner.

This is also pushed pretty heavily in the ASD and mental disorder community which does even more harm than good. Neuroplasticity demands space for real change which oftentimes requires input and stimuli that is counter to what folks naturally want.

Again, discomfort is the goal because that’s how we really learn.